Professional athletes have spoken up about their battles with mental illness and eating disorders in recent years, creating an environment in collegiate and professional sports where these issues are now beginning to be addressed rather than suppressed.
An Athlete Opens Up
Mike Marjama, a catcher for the Seattle Mariners franchise in Major League Baseball, recently opened up about his own battles with an eating disorder since his teenage years, a personal story that sheds light on the large amount of men who face eating disorders, and the danger they can cause.
Marjama revealed his struggles in an interview with ABC News and through a mini-documentary. Marjama said that he struggled with both anorexia and bulimia throughout high school, which led to him being admitted into an in-patient program in high school.
“I wanted to give baseball fans and people in general a look at what this experience was for me,” Marjama said, according to HuffPost. “So I hope this sheds a light on it. Just because you’re a Major League Baseball player, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to everything. I’m more than just an athlete. I want to talk about [my eating disorder] because you don’t hear about it a lot ― especially with males.”
Marjama said his obsession with his body image involved restricting his diet and overexercising, which the National Eating Disorders Association says is common with people suffering from an eating disorder.
They estimate that 3 percent of gym-goers have a “destructive relationship” with exercise and that between 40 and 80 percent of anorexia nervosa patients frequently exercise excessively to avoid putting on weight.
“I started just restricting my diet, just overworking,” he told ABC News. “I put a stationary bike in the shower, and [would] ride until I would pass out.”
A Common Issue
Unfortunately, Marjama isn’t alone. According to the NEDA, males represent 25 percent of people with anorexia, and are at a higher risk of dying from the disorder due to late diagnoses that often result from the belief that males rarely suffer from eating disorder.
They also estimate that eating disorders will affect 10 million males at some point in their lifetime.
Marjama hopes that telling his story will allow others to recognize signs of eating disorders so they can seek help and pursue their passions.
“If I can maybe affect one person that doesn’t have to have their hopes and dreams taken away from them because they’re suffering from an eating disorder,” he said. “And they’re able to follow their hopes and dreams, that’s all I really want.”